DEARBORN, Mich. -- New research suggests that distracted driving is more serious of a problem for teen drivers than previously thought, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
They found that distraction played a role in nearly 6 out of 10 'moderate-to-severe' teen crashes -- four times as many as previous estimates based on police reports.
Researchers were able to review 1,700 videos of crashes involving teenage drivers that were taken from in-vehicle cameras. They analyzed the six seconds that led up to the accidents, and the results showed that distraction was a factor in 58% of them. The NHTSA had previously estimated that distraction was a factor in only 14% of teen road accidents.
"Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized."
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
- Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
- Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
- Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
- Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
- Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes
AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use, and also recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers.